German Engineers Join Hybrid Game
Anticipation hangs palpably ahead of the Frankfurt International Motor Show: what will German engineers bring to the green table? After bucking the trend for several years in favor of the already well-established "clean diesel" technology, German car companies are promising a turn-around, starting next week in Frankfurt. But visitors in Frankfurt won't have to look far to find more green diesels either. Here is a sneak preview.
Where Mercedes leads, others will follow. Out of 19 cars to be shown next week, seven are hybrids and eight will feature the Bluetec clean diesel technology jointly developed by Daimler/Chrysler and VW. The king of the road: a Mercedes S-class with both Bluetec and hybrid. Reports promise that the car will perform like an 8-cylinder, but that the 224 HP out of four cylinders will sip a measly 5.4 liters per 100km (43.5 mpg), 30% better than the next-in-class.The Germans are also picking up on another answer to the SUV vs. green conundrum: smaller SUVs. VW has pinned high hopes on the Tiguan, a smaller sibling to the Touran, and AUDI promises a Q5, several steps down from big brother Q7. But the AUDI cross-coupe concept debuted in Shanghai is expected to meet competition in Frankfurt. BMW has confirmed the development of the X6, which will meld the BMW X5 with the body of a smaller wagon. A hybrid variant of the X6 drive-train hiding in an X6 decoy will be shown next week; the real body design is expected to premiere next year, maybe in January in Detroit.
And can you discuss German engineering without mentioning Porsche? Porsche has been promising a hybrid Cayenne for several years now. The debut next week is eagerly awaited.
Quote of the IAA: credit Frank Dudenhöffer, industry expert from the technical school in Gelsenkirchen, who points out that auto buyers are still looking for sexy. He predicts that even in the future, we still won't be seeing "muesli-autos".
Dudenhöffer is also credited with a theory we believe might be the key to ending the dominance of SUVs as the "cool" car to have. He points out that people are buying SUVs because they have everything mid-lifers and seniors have always wanted -- spacious, luxury cars which are easy to get in and out of -- carefully packaged behind a facade of adventurousness. So for all of you commuting in your SUVs rather than using them to tend the sheep in the outback or deliver water in the Sahara: hope you're feeling good in your old-fogey-car!